AfghanistanTaliban Advances in Afghanistan Give Kashmir Militants a Boost

By Gowhar Geelani

Published 8 July 2021

As NATO troops continue their withdrawal from Afghanistan, experts fear that a spike in armed insurgency in India-administered Kashmir could follow. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the late 1980s, an anti-India armed insurgency erupted in India-administered Kashmir. India has managed to bring the insurgency – for which it blames Pakistan – under control, but with the Taliban set to control Afghanistan, the Kashmiri insurgents may find a new and eager ally.

As the NATO mission in Afghanistan approaches its end after a two-decade war, the uncertain prospects for the nation are raising security concerns in India.

Policymakers in New Delhi are mulling over the implications for the disputed territory of Kashmir and calibrating ways to ensure that a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan wouldn’t embolden militancy in the region. 

Multiple reports suggest that Taliban insurgents have mounted an aggressive offensive against Afghan government forces, particularly in northeastern Badakhshan province.

Hundreds of Afghan security personnel recently retreated across the Tajik-Afghan border in response to Taliban advances in northern Afghanistan.

Almost 300 Afghan servicemen who crossed the border into Tajikistan were flown home on Wednesday, a Tajik security source told Reuters.

That underlines the rapidly worsening security situation in the country.

A Front Comprising China, Pakistan and Taliban’
If the Taliban, as feared, continue their advances and gain control of more territory, observers fear that could lead to a spike in armed militancy in India-administered Kashmir, as well. 

Pravin Sawhney, a renowned defense expert and a former Indian army officer, told DW that, should the Taliban return to power in Afghanistan, it would certainly have an impact on Kashmir.

In my assessment, there will be a consolidated front comprising China, Pakistan and the Taliban. And Kashmir will not remain unaffected,” Sawhney said.

Sawhney remains skeptical about the ability of the current Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, to stay in power for long. 

The Taliban fighters are sons of the soil,” Sawhney said. “They have not given any assurances to the US that they won’t muck around. The Taliban are already controlling most parts of the country. Yes, post-NATO withdrawal, I see definite fallout in Kashmir.”

Cease-Fire Helps Stop Cross-Border Infiltration
India’s federal government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), revoked Kashmir’s special constitutional status and statehood in August 2019, and imposed harsh restrictions on public movement and communication to stave off mass protests.

The decision raised tensions with Pakistan, which sharply criticized the abrogation of the region’s special status and tried to draw the attention of the international community to the situation in Kashmir.

Nevertheless, in February, military officials from both sides agreed to a cease-fire along the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border that has divided Kashmir into two parts, one administered by India and the other by Pakistan, since 1947-48.

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